United Methodists in Eastern Europe and Central Asia have started the process of disaffiliation from the mainline Protestant denomination following several U.S. churches that have done the same.
According to The Christiain Post, UMC Northern Europe and Eurasia Central Conference delegates voted 40-20 last week during an online meeting to allow regional church bodies to begin the disaffiliation process.
Those regional bodies include Central Russia, Northwest Russia and Belarus Provisional, the Eastern Russia and Central Asia Provisional and the South Russia Provisional conferences.
“This has been a demanding conference in many ways,” Nordic and Baltic Area Bishop Christian Alsted said at the end of the meeting.
The meeting took nearly four hours before a vote was held.
“It is not necessarily a decision that is received with the same joy or appreciation by all members of the conference,” Alsted said. “Nevertheless, this is the decision that we were able to make together.”
Also, during the meeting, delegates voted down a proposal that would allow regional bodies within the Central Conference to change their rules to allow the blessing of same-sex unions and the ordination of openly gay individuals.
Currently, the UMC Book of Discipline prohibits the blessing of same-sex unions and the ordination of noncelibate homosexuals.
Some church leaders have pushed for the rules to be changed, but those attempts have failed. Instead, many UMC leaders have refused to follow or enforce the rules on marriage and ordination.
In November 2022, the UMC Western Jurisdiction voted to promote the Rev. Cedrick D. Bridgeforth of the California-Pacific Conference to the role of bishop. Bridgeforth is married to a man.
Previously in 2022, conservative leaders in the UMC launched the Global Methodist Church. The GMC has more than a thousand churches in its new membership.
Also, in 2022, more than 1,800 churches in the U.S. had disaffiliation votes approved by their respective UMC conferences.
Photo courtesy: ©Ernest Brillo/Unsplash
Amanda Casanova is a writer living in Dallas, Texas. She has covered news for ChristianHeadlines.com since 2014. She has also contributed to The Houston Chronicle, U.S. News and World Report and IBelieve.com. She blogs at The Migraine Runner.